World leaders try to outdo each other with climate promises at Earth Day summit

World leaders try to outdo each other with climate promises at Earth Day summit
AP Photo/Markus Schreiber
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In a virtual two-day climate summit hosted by President Joe Biden on Earth Day, world leaders attempted to outdo each other on promises and boasts on tackling climate change. Activist Greta Thunberg warned ahead of the event that world leaders would bring “bullsh*t” to the summit.

As detailed by Sky News, Biden used the two-day climate summit to announce a new target of halving carbon emissions by 2030. Other world leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, promised to do so in a “much shorter time span.” 

Russian President Vladimir Putin bragged about the greater extent of the actions Russia plans to take in tackling climate change. The United Kingdom’s Boris Johnson promised to do as much as the United States. India’s Narendra Modi bragged that India’s carbon footprint is 60 per cent lower than the global average. 

Compared with 2005 levels, the United States has pledged to reduce emissions by upwards of 50 per cent by 2030, US climate envoy John Kerry said. Kerry says the goal previously announced by Biden is a more than reasonable target. 

"Will we probably wind up exceeding it? I suspect yes," he said. "I'm generally optimistic because so much is beginning to happen."

Efforts to cut America’s carbon emissions include the widespread adoption of electric vehicles and a reduction of emissions caused by manufacturing and power consumption, which are largely driven by the use of fossil fuels in the U.S. The move towards a carbon-neutral or even carbon-negative U.S. economy will be highly contingent on the adoption of renewable energy sources.

Canada has pledged to follow America’s lead by reducing carbon emissions by 40 to 45 per cent compared to 2005 levels by 2030. 

In contrast, the U.K. is measuring its target against 1990 levels, a baseline most commonly used by the United Nations — meaning that the U.K. is expected to reduce its carbon emissions by even greater levels than its North American counterparts. Boris Johnson boasted that emissions in the U.K. will be cut by 78 per cent by 2035. 

As noted by Sky News, each representative present attempted to try and one-up each other with boasts on their efforts to “build back better.” Notably, Johnson used phrases like “Saudi Arabia of wind” and “First country to legislate for net-zero.”

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  • By Sheila Gunn Reid

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